Twelve 22 Tasty Sips
Whether you’re perusing a bar menu while traveling or stirring up a cocktail at home, let our guide lead to new taste destinations.
By Hope S. Philbrick
‘Tis the season to sip socially. Plan ahead and when the misinformation being debated around the table gets to be too much, at least you’ll have a worthy bottle nearby to give you something pleasant to focus on for a moment.
Here are some delicious liquid accompaniments for whatever you’re plating up (and we include a few food pairing recommendations to help kick-start your menu planning). We’re featuring wines, spirits, and even four lip-smacking yummy non-alcoholic options for youngins and teetotalers. Cheers!
La Historia de Nosotros Tequila is the silver tequila dubbed “Best Silver Tequila” in the 2017 San Francisco Spirits Competition. Soft and pleasant, its sweet citrus and agave notes are balanced with warm pepper. It lingers on a tickling burn. Makes a great margarita! (Shake 3 parts tequila with 2 parts triple sec and 1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice vigorously with ice.) Retails for approx. $37.
Barr an Uisce is a small batch craft whiskey company hailing from County Wicklow in Ireland. Though it launched just over two years ago, Barr an Uisce was ranked No. 1 in a New York Times blind tasting of Irish whiskies in 2017! All four expressions in the current portfolio are aged in bourbon barrels and all are worth any whiskey fan’s time and attention:
Barr an Uisce “Wicklow Hills” Blended Irish Whiskey is finished in a sherry cask (after the bourbon barrel aging). From soft beginnings it rises into caramel apple and toasted almond with a hint of fennel, lingering on spicy toffee. Retails for approx. $45.
Barr an Uisce “Wickow Rare” Small Batch Blended Whiskey is finished in an Oloroso sherry cask (after the bourbon barrel aging). Aromas of hay and honey build to apple crisp, toasted nuts, and stewed plums before lingering on caramel and red pepper flakes. Retails for approx. $55.
Barr an Uisce ‘1803’ 10 Year Old Single Malt offers a whiff of lemon peel on the nose. It starts out a bit shy then builds increasingly bolder notes of honey, apple and pear before introducing a smoky bit on the back of the throat. Retails for approx. $87.
Barr an Uisce ‘1803’ 16 Year Old Single Malt has notes of clementine and flan alongside some graham cracker, vanilla toffee, backed apple, and moss. This one is so smooth it’s easy to swoon over. Wake up Grandma, she wouldn’t want to miss it. Retails for approx. $104.
Dow’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port is aged in the Boa Vista Lodge on the banks of the Douro River, across from the city of Porto. Dark, full-bodied, and medium-dry, it sips of dried figs, dried cherries, hazelnuts, citrus, and vanilla caramel. Pair with cheese, creamy desserts, or even apple and pumpkin pies. Retails for approx. $37.
2018 Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley’s Rutherford region is a 100 percent varietal with notes of lemon, strawberry, orange blossom, mango, and green grass. It’s crisp and refreshing yet elegant. Though versatile, it shines brightest paired with seafood, basil pesto, and goat cheese drizzled with honey. Retails for approx. $55.
2012 Cerro Añon Reserva Rioja Bodegas Olarra is 85 percent tempranillo, 10 percent mazuelo, and 5 percent graciano (FYI, in case you like to play grape bingo). Aged a minimum of three years, it offers harmonious notes of cranberry, cherry, blackberry, thyme, eucalyptus, black pepper, and chalk dust. Serve with meats and spicy rice dishes. Retails for approx. $26.
2017 Vale Do Bomfim is a dry red table wine that’s fruity with undertones of green pepper, toasted oak, and earthy forest floor. Pair with holiday roasts and savory sides. Retails for approx. $13.
Pink Flamingo Gris de Gris rosé hails from the Vignoble des Sables vineyard in Camargue, France. Made of Grenache gris, this rosy-peach hued wine is round and supple. Notes of red berries and orange stone fruits mingle with flavors of spiced candies. Enjoy as an aperitif or with a salad course. The bottle artwork is adorable, sure to bring a smile to most faces (we all have that relative who never cracks). Retails for approx. $9.
Flamingos on a French wine? Yes! According to production details, the name honors “the pink flamingos that inhabit the sandy coastal area of this large vineyard in the Languedoc. Sable de Camargue features a unique biodiversity of protected species including pink flamingos among the 178 bird species and 37 fish species.”
2018 Pink Flamingo Gris Tête De Cuvée rosé is 100 percent granache. Look for notes of red berries and orange stone fruits in this crowd-pleasing quaffer. Enjoy it on its own or with shellfish starters and fruity desserts. Retails for approx. $13.
Cameron Hughes doesn’t own a vineyard or a winery. Instead, the company tracks down wines it considers great, negotiates the best possible price, and sells them direct to customers online. “For over a decade, my team and I have searched far and wide, meeting with top wineries and producers all over the world in a never-ending hunt for incredible wine deals,” says Cameron Hughes in press materials. He and his team can serve as your personal sommelier; call 800-805-1971. We sampled four current selections:
2017 Cameron Hughes Lot 683 Sierra Foothills Zinfandel is a fragrant mingling of blackberry, plum, nutmeg, vanilla, tobacco fields, and pansy. Soft tannins and acidity get the flavors dancing across the palate. Pair this red wine with grilled meats. Retails for $12.
2018 Cameron Hughes Lot 673 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) offers notes of currant, stewed cherries, mushrooms, slate, and bouquet garni. A hint of vanilla appears in the finish. Dry with balanced acidity and tannins, this wine pairs well with grilled veggies and poultry. Retails for $18.
2017 Cameron Hughes Lot 689 Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley is a food-friendly version of the varietal with butter and oak notes that please the palate without going overboard. This wine has been awarded gold medals at multiple competitions. Retails for $15.
2018 Cameron Hughes Lot 654 Albariño, which hails from Spain’s Rias Baixas region, is a tasty bottling of what’s currently my personal favorite go-to white wine varietal, since Albariño is reliably food friendly and likely to delight the wine connoisseur as well as the indiscriminate lush. This version pours notes of stone fruits balanced with a seashell-like minerality. Retails for $15.
Three Spanish varietals from Cariñena offer an array of rich acidity, intense body, and elegant aromatics:
2017 Viñas de Paniza Syrah from Bodegas Paniza is a garnet-colored wine with fruity cassis and currant notes that mingle among cinnamon, cocoa, portabellas, pansies, and bonfire. Pair it with spicy red meats, pasta, and cheese. Retails for approx. $12.
2017 El Circo Volatinero is a purple-tinged tempranillo from Grandes Vinos. It offers notes of red and black berries, pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla toffee. Pour it alongside spicy red meats, pasta, and cheese. Retails for approx. $10.
2017 Castillo Ducay White from Bodegas San Valero is a green-tinged blend of the macabeo grape and chardonnay. It offers a hefty dose of apple and pear plus faint tropical and floral elements. Serve this conversation-worthy white wine with vegetables and cheese. Retails for approx. $10.
Non-Alcoholic / Mixers
For anyone who’s not drinking alcohol, try Mingle Sparkling Mocktails. (Though you can also add a splash of liquor as an easy way to mix up a cocktail.) “I was inspired to launch Mingle after I quit drinking alcohol and felt left out of the fun when others were holding beautiful glasses of wine and cocktails at social gatherings,” says founder Laura Taylor in press materials. All Mingle beverages are crafted of high-quality natural ingredients, gently effervescent, alcohol-free, Kosher, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and only 120 calories per bottle. Serve neat without ice in a stemmed glass for the most grownup experience. Blood Orange Elderflower Mingle, the newest flavor, is citrusy and floral. Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini Mingle is fruity and refreshing. Cranberry Cosmo Mingle is tangy and crisp. Cucumber Melon Mojito Mingle is crisp and balanced. Each version retails for approx. $10.
Unless otherwise noted, all suggested retail prices are for a 750ml bottle.
Be a responsible grownup: Never drink and drive.
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.